VCCS Litonline Introduction to Literature
English 112 (English Composition II)

page 9 of 14

Figures of Speech in the Poem

The student wrote--


Figures of Speech

Frost uses several figures of speech to stress certain points and add freshness to the poem. For instance, Frost gives human qualities to "Truth" in the personification about interrupting. This striking personification alerts the reader that "Truth," or reality, is a major part of the theme for this poem.

Similes heighten both sides of the contrast between truth/reality and imagination/memory. The nostalgic image of "girls on their hands and knees that throw their hair/ Before them over their heads to dry in the sun" begins with the simile-signal "like." When describing life "like a pathless wood," Frost uses imagination to depict reality. So imagination even subdues or overcomes reality.

The last line, "One could do worse than to be a swinger of birches," understates the theme. If imagination can be equated with art, the last line may suggest that one could end up in a worse life pursuit than being an artist, or a poet.

Your turn to respond--

Are the Explanations of Images Clear and Interpretive?

typehand.gif (8738 bytes)This section interprets images almost like equations; is that a fair analogy? Does it help clarify the images she mentions?
If you were the editor for this essay, what praise would you give for this analysis of tone in connection with the theme while leaving this section as is, or what changes would you suggest to this student writer?

(Click here for a hint on re-opening a word processor.)


Personification, similes, and understatement provide a sampling of the imagery in this poem. Here's a strategic issue--Should this student cite images that she has already pointed out, as she largely does, or should she cite other images that she hasn't mentioned before? The trade-off is reinforcing her major points by re-mentioning previously used examples, as opposed to giving the impression of more thorough or broader analysis by citing imagery that she hasn't mentioned before but that might not be central to understanding the poem.

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Technical Reminder: Quotations must be worked into the grammatical structures of your own sentences, not placed between sentences. That is, your task as a writer is not just to quote relevant evidence from the work you read but to make some claim about each quoted phrase, to quote it as you are explaining it and what it has to do with your thesis.

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